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Products > Corynocarpus laevigatus
 
Corynocarpus laevigatus - New Zealand Laurel
   

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Corynocarpaceae
Origin: New Zealand (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Corynocarpus laevigata]
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Corynocarpus laevigatus (New Zealand Laurel) - A slow growing narrow upright evergreen tree reaching 25 to 40 feet tall and is densely covered with attractive oblong dark glossy green foliage. On mature plants small greenish cream flowers appear in spring and are followed by large decorative orange berries. Plant in part sun and water regularly to occasionally - established plants require only infrequent irrigation and are surprisingly drought tolerant. It is hardy to 20-25 F This makes a good container plant, for screening in shaded locations or under eaves. It has a good tolerance of coastal conditions and with its dense growth can be used as a hedge to provide protection to other less seashore tolerant plants. With its large leathery leaves it looks best when trimmed and not sheared. Though rarely seen fruiting in cultivation in California, the fruit and the single seed inside are quite poisonous, containing a glycoside compound called karakin but in the more than 25 years we have had the species and the variegated cultivar in our gardens, we have never seen it produce any fruit. This plant is native to coastal and lowland forests throughout the North Island of New Zealand and coastal areas on the upper third of the South Island as well as on the Kermadec and Chatham Islands. The Maori people call this plant Karaka (on the Chatham Islands it was called kopi) and historically it was a very important cultivated plant for shelter and for a food source with the poisonous seed rendered edible through a washing and a cooking process. The Maori folklore recount stories of bringing this plant to New Zealand, but since the plant is not found elsewhere, this is now considered an unfounded myth and the plant is thought to have originated in New Zealand. The name Corynocarpus comes from the Greek words 'koryne' meaning "a club" and 'karpos' meaning "fruit" in reference to the shape of its fruit. The specific epithet is Latin for "smooth" in reference to the smooth glossy leaves. These leaves have interesting stipules in the leaf axils that are fused to form a single dark sheath, a characteristic that is a distinctive feature for this tree. According to the International Plant Names Index the spelling of the specific epithet as "laevigata" that was authored by John Reinhold Forster and his son Johann Georg Adam Forster in 1775 preceded by one year the published name as "laevigatus" but this later name is listed as current in The Plant List, the collaborative effort between The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Missouri Botanic Garden. The Fosters were Germans of Scottish descent who accompanied James Cook on his second Pacific voyage and published an account of the physical geography, natural history and ethnic philosophy that they had observed en route. The specific name for the Kentia Palm, Howea forsteriana, honors both father and son. This species was first introduced into California in 1865 by James Welch of San Francisco and we have offered it our nursery since 1983. We also grow the variegated form of this plant, Corynocarpus laevigatus 'Variegatus'  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Corynocarpus laevigatus.
 
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